Disclosure made easy—it’s called “practice”

Douglas Hucker, executive director of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) in Dallas, Texas, says that if you can work disclosure into your presentation, with practice, you can maintain control of the sale and fulfill your obligation to disclose gemstone enhancement information.

“If you can get used to it, it’s not hard at all,” said Hucker during a Wednesday morning presentation titled “Clearing the Air on Disclosure—From Beryllium to Tanzanite.”

According to Hucker, customers want to know about enhancement, but they don’t know they want to know until they find out you didn’t tell them. “They think, ‘If you didn’t tell me, it must be bad.’ Address it,” said Hucker. “Develop a strategy.”

Clients want enhancement information, but they want it in print from a reputable jeweler. That’s why AGTA has a number of different print materials for retailers to give to their customers. They’re all written in an easily comprehensible manner, giving consumers a sense of comfort in knowing how gems are routinely enhanced and that the enhancement is permanent and not something they need to worry about.

But take charge of the situation. It’s hard to defend yourself when the customer brings up enhancements before you do, Hucker explained. “Put it in your ‘how to take care of your jewelry’ presentation,” he suggested. Regarding heat treatment, Hucker gave a few excellent analogies to use: the heating/annealing of gold, of steel, and even the pasteurizing of milk.

“You don’t have to make this hard,” said Hucker. “Be proactive.”

Of course, if you’re going to disclose that a stone has been enhanced, then you need to know if the stone has been enhanced. That means your supplier needs to provide you with accurate and complete information. AGTA members are required to use initial codes on invoices to disclose all enhancements.

“It is totally unacceptable to accept gemstones from a supplier if they write ‘E’ on the invoice, or they say simply, ‘You know all these things are treated.’ You need to work with a supplier who knows what they’re selling.”

Hucker also talked about the Tanzanite Protocols and how checks are now in place all along the supply line that require written guarantees of where the stones originated.

“Ask your supplier for the warranty,” said Hucker. These are tangible warranties that provide you and your customer the confidence that these gems were purchased through legitimate suppliers and that the monies from the sale of tanzanite have in no way funded illegitimate purposes.”